Review: Motorola Cliq Smartphone
Motoblur: A Great Concept, But...
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Last -- and probably most important -- is battery life. In my tests, I found the Cliq's battery life to be among the worst I've come across. The culprit is Motoblur (more on this in a second). From a full 100% charge, I was getting seven hours of battery life, nine hours, sometimes 12 hours, depending on how I used it. That's not so great. Any smartphone that can't make it until at least 5 PM is not going to do anyone any favors.
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The heart of the Cliq is Motoblur. On the surface, it seems to be a very good idea. Essentially, Google and Motorola decided to take advantage of some of the APIs offered by Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter to enable a real-time stream of information that flows into the device.
Blur drops three widgets -- called "Happenings," "Updates," and "Messaging" -- on the home screen. "Happenings" is a constant live stream of all your friends' Facebook and Twitter status updates. "Updates" are all of your Twitter and Facebook status updates. "Messaging" is a unified inbox that merges your SMS/MMS and instant messages with Facebook e-mail messages and Twitter direct messages. The two most useful aspects of Blur are the "Updates" and "Messaging" widgets.
"Updates" is what the end user takes advantage of to post to Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. Perhaps what's most useful is that you can pick and choose which networks you want to share with. Open the app, type a message, use the pull-down menu to choose the social network, and off the update goes. Alternately, you can send the update to all of your networks at once to keep them all in sync. It's a simple client that does what it says it will do.
"Messaging" is really a messaging center for all incoming messages that are aimed directly at the end user. That includes regular messaging vehicles such as SMS, MMS, and IM, but also e-mails that are sent to a user's Facebook or MySpace account, or Direct Messages sent through Twitter. I must admit, it is really nice to have one place to find all of these messages, rather than bouncing around to different applications spread across the phone.
The root of many of the Cliq's problems is with "Happenings," which feeds all your Facebook and Twitter friends' status updates to your phone. The concept sounds great, right? The problem is, if you have hundreds of Facebook friends and follow more than several hundred people on Twitter, it becomes overwhelming. See, Blur is actually a service that is provided from a Motorola server. Users create a Blur account, which accesses the social networks and then pushes the updates in real time to the phone.
The major problem is that the phone is connecting constantly to the T-Mobile data network to send and receive this message stream. What does constant radio activity mean? Poor battery life. It also makes for a major distraction. With updates flowing in all the time, it's hard to put the phone down and pay attention to mundane things such as work, driving, or cooking dinner.